Andreas Tsonidis photographs from ‘Returning Home’ seek to explore history, family and the connections that we make within the family unit.
What makes this ongoing project most interesting is that Tsonidis is a family therapist who finds familial relationships difficult, the tension between individualistic aspirations and the collective will of the family unit too much for him to deal with. And perhaps that is why he turned his camera on his partners family and not his. Through her life he was able to reflect on his own.
Through his sensitive approach Tsonidas takes us into a world that is alive and strong, there is a palpable sense of intimacy etched on the faces of his subjects, a history that belongs to them, a shared memory that is unspoken. His partners parents live in northern Greece and their story is remarkable. Is worth telling. The family fled Turkey in the 1920’s, suffered under the German occupation during WWII, the civil war – which was fought between the American and UK backed Government and the communists between 1946 – 1949 – and finally the military dictatorship which ended in 1974.
This living history has informed the family, their space, their perception of the world and their close connection to each other. And it’s this story that Tsonidis seeks to capture in his portraits. He’s an observer of a life lived. And as he participates within their close community he creates a version of a family life through which he can examine his own thoughts and ideas about what a family is. What it means.
There is a depth to these pictures, his use of light gives these unguarded moments a profundity that’s hard to capture, his subjects willing yet remaining distant, creating a tension, a space, in which we can ruminate on the close bond they have with each other, the emotional undercurrents that join them in a union that travels beyond their own lives. Is part of their collective story. Here’s what he has to say about the photographs:
In this personal documentary I have been photographing my wife’s family of origin, and especially her parents who live in a provincial town in Northern Greece.
Very often, the moments that I wanted to capture were instances of individuality, set against the backdrop of intimate relationships and strong emotional bonds. The individual characters in this photographic series are all protagonists in a family drama staged in the unique atmosphere the family’s home evokes.
For me, the photographer, husband and son-in-law, the camera served as a distance regulator and a reflexive tool; it allowed me to approach this family as a ‘participant observer’, providing me with a position from which to observe myself observing others, while simultaneously searching for a home. These pictures then intend to create a version of family life, but also speak of my desire to understand and connect with a world that is not my own, yet one that I feel in many ways deeply attached too